Consultants hired by the Australian government to advise on carbon credit policy were also working for the carbon credit industry and an unnamed natural gas producer. A Freedom of Information request by Climate Home News produced documents showing that EY, awarded a AUD200,000 ($133,000) contract by the country’s climate change authority (CCA) last year to prepare a report assessing Australia’s carbon market schemes, had already undertaken unpaid work for carbon credit registries Verra and Gold Standard. EY did not disclose any conflict of interest, despite the CCA being required to ask such questions of all bidders; the report subsequently concluded that the two schemes were the most appropriate. Both organisations receive fees if Australian companies purchase their carbon offsets, although Verra’s were criticised in January by The Guardian for involving credits for which genuine carbon reductions were not made. The report found that Verra and Gold Standard were the leading international offset schemes for governance.
Carbon offsets reduce greenhouse gas in one area to compensate for increased emissions elsewhere. If appropriately verified, emissions reductions can be bought by governments or companies as a means of counteracting their own pollution. Advocates, including the Australian government, claim offsets are an effective means to reduce emissions, but critics argue they are a way of avoiding meaningful measures such as reducing fossil fuel consumption or cutting production. A United Nations-commissioned research paper last year recommended that carbon offsets should be used only as a last resort, and only after emissions have been reduced.
It is important that carbon credit schemes also benefit local communities.
The World Meteorological Organisation has stated that 193 countries have given unanimous backing to a scheme to monitor global greenhouse...